Food Allergy 101: 'Aren't you scared of me?'
WHAT IF MY FOOD ALLERGY WAS A REAL, LIVE PERSON? AND WHAT IF I COULD TALK TO HIM ABOUT WHAT HE’S TAUGHT ME OVER THE YEARS?
I'm walking to my class along Locust Walk on Penn's campus. Mr. A., my food allergy, keeps running ahead of me, hiding behind a tree or a bench or a student before jumping back out as I walk past.
"Boo!" he says.
He runs off again. I see him "hiding" behind The Button sculpture.
I shake my head. "What are you doing?" I ask.
"Scaring you," he says. "Aren't you scared of me?"
I laugh. "You're not scaring me."
"There are times I have to be scared of you," I say. "But I decide when that is. Now is not the time."
He looks to the ground.
I continue: "Anyway, I sort of know when you're going to jump out. Sure there can be some surprises — sometimes you can appear when I least expect you — but I can minimize those times. I've learned your patterns. I've learned what to look for. Besides, I have my Auvi-Q right here."
He looks at me.
"But do you know what would really scare me?" I say, motioning him closer.
He leans in. His ear is just inches away.
I lunge toward him. "Boo!" I yell.
Startled, he jumps back and runs off in the opposite direction.
JJ Vulopas is a junior at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. An advocate for young people, JJ has lived with food allergies his entire life. He is the author of the book, Land of Not. You can read his daily blog at www.thelandofcan.com.